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RICHMOND — By June 1, state government agencies must begin checking whether new hires are eligible to work in this country, Gov. Bob McDonnell has ordered — a date 18 months before a law requiring the checks is scheduled to take effect.
Last year, the General Assembly approved legislation requiring the state to participate in E-Verify, a federal Internet-based system that enables employers to determine whether their employees legally can be employed. The effective date of that legislation is Dec. 1, 2012.
But McDonnell said in a statement last week that "we should implement this policy as quickly as possible."
"My administration has focused on enforcing the nation's immigration laws to ensure that all of those working in Virginia's public and private sectors are legally eligible to do so," McDonnell said.
Ordering early implementation of the new law represents a firm stand against illegal immigrants by the governor, who has taken several as Virginia's chief executive.
McDonnell last year directed the state Department of Motor Vehicles to stop accepting a federal employment document as proof of legal residence from those applying for driver's licenses or identification cards.
He also asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for authority to allow some Virginia State Police troopers to enforce immigration laws, a request that is pending.
Legislation approved this year, meanwhile, would require some companies that receive state contracts to participate in the E-Verify system. That bill would apply to businesses with an average of 50 employees in the year prior to getting a state contract worth more than $50,000.
It is to take effect Dec. 1, 2013, to provide companies time to comply.
Republican Sen. Jeff McWaters, who co-sponsored the measure, said he hopes contractors will follow the governor's lead and voluntarily adhere to the bill before the deadline.